You’re never alone with schizophrenia
Sometimes I ask myself, are you lonely?
And the answer comes back, no, not really. Not with all these multiple, disjunctive personalities bickering together, snoring, itching, offering sage or misleading counsel in my head.
There’s the Paranoid One. He goes to bed in the dark and keeps the curtains closed, so no-one will know he exists. Sometimes I hear him bantering nastily with the Guilty One, whose fingernails are bitten to the bone waiting for the knock on the door. He is responsible for everything bad in the world.
Then there’s the Satirical One, who drives me to work at the computer every morning; and the Alcoholic One. Whatever resolutions the Sensible One may have made during the day, come six o’clock the Alcoholic One always remembers he’s forgotten to buy dogfood and returns with a bottle of wine and a sheepish grin.
The Calculating One then reminds us both that at £7 a bottle we are spending two-and-a-half thousand pounds a year on this stuff we can’t afford, just to try and shut the others up.
The Forgetful One spends hours Googling stuff he knows he knows, but can’t recall. Names, dates, the roots and outcomes of historical events – the meanings of common nouns and adjectives. Meanwhile, that offputting personality, the Fearful Procrastinator is working out how long we’ve got before the hospital reminds us we haven’t made that appointment to have a camera shoved up our cancerous old colon, and if we don’t hurry up we’ll miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Ambitious One is constantly hovering in the wings, muttering darkly that time is running out. He’s a mate of the Still-Young-And-Handsome One, who’s worrying that Size 36” seems to be shrinking and you haven’t showered, shaved or changed your socks for three weeks.
Advice to get a life usually seems to hinge on joining some activity group. So that’s fine for the one evening a week in term-time when you can exercise or go singing and meet up briefly afterwards for a drink and a chat. Although you can never be certain which one of you is doing the talking? It only intensifies the darkness when you get home afterwards and yesterday’s washing-up is waiting in the sink.
And it’s fine for the one week a year when we can all pack our T-shirts and shorts and head off together to France to study with real musicians, who don’t exist the other 51 weeks of the year. Until the Failed Sinatra personality follows me to bed at three a.m. unkindly pointing out where I started on the wrong beat, sang out of key, missed several crucial high notes and was pathetic at directing the band.
Couples get invited out. In my previous working world of domestic support services, couples get offered very well-paid residential jobs as… couples. Couples can go on holiday and do things together, or apart – couples have those choices. Couples can sometimes delegate responsibility for things they individually find difficult or irksome, knowing the other will probably help. Couples can rely on one another to say when you are being a twat. Couples might even care for one another in old age.
The Unbearable One is resolutely opposed to the idea of becoming a couple again. He points out with some justification that, with all that going on in your head, with no money and smelly socks, impotent and increasingly housebound, you are hardly a catch.
So no, a schizophrenic is never lonely.
A matter of course
Lest anyone imagine I cannot crack a smile, if they have not been watching the Olympic golf they will not understand the reason for my great amusement currently, but it is to do with golf-course etiquette.
In situations where congratulations or thanks are in order during a round, or where a golfer has holed in one or something, I have noticed that men golfers tend to fist-bump and high-five one another a lot.
At the end of the round there are manly hugs to distribute among the caddies, match officials, colleagues and rival players in the three-ball, and these can be quite close, muscular, emotional affairs that one might describe as ‘bear-hugs’.
Between the ladies, however, their opponents and (mostly male) caddies, there are embraces, and these are ritually distant; just a brush with one hand going behind the back and a sort of crane-like dip towards one another, gaze averted, the aim being to achieve absolutely minimal contact.
Is it to avoid transmitting Zika? Humans are funny.
BTW… If your daughter is white, blonde and wears her hair in a ponytail, why not enter her in the Olympics? She might do well!
The towering intellect of Donald J Trump
“…Libya was stable; Syria was under control; Egypt was ruled by a secular ally of the United States. Iraq was experiencing a reduction of violence and Iran was being choked off by economic sanctions.”
In an astonishing attack on Barack Obama’s foreign policy, in the apparent belief that voters are so ignorant they will accept any lie so long as it is sufficiently American, Donald Trump has claimed that before 2009, Libya was a stable nation, as was Syria; Iraq was on the mend, a peaceful country, while Egypt was safely in the hands of a secular ally of America and Iran was safely contained by sanctions. Obama, he says, destroyed all that through his evil policy of ‘nation building’ and appeasement and Crooked Hillary will only continue on the same reckless course to the detriment of America’s greatness.
Of course, al-Quaeda did not exist before Obama was elected… Hezbollah did not exist, Iran was not building a bomb, Iraq was not in a civil war between rival militias. If he truly believes this claptrap, he is a very much more dangerous threat to world peace than anyone in history I can think of. (I’m not saying more than Adolf you-know-who, right? Am I right about that? Yeah, you better believe it. Anyway….)
The facts are somewhat at variance with his simple analysis.
Before 2009, Libya was the principal sponsor of state-backed terrorism in the Middle East and beyond, supplying weapons and explosives to the IRA in Northern Ireland, responsible for the bombing of Pan Am flight 101; tens of thousands of Libyans opposed to the regime or suspected of being so were rotting in gaol, torture and extrajudicial executions were rife. A rapist and murderer, Gaddafi could only be persuaded to stop trying to buy a nuclear weapon from Pakistan in exchange for the most lucrative oil deal in history and a kiss on both cheeks from Tony Blair.
(I can forgive Blair for some things, but never for that nauseating, nationally humiliating display of Christian forgiveness of a deranged monster who, one sincerely hopes, is for all Eternity slowly and agonisingly turning on the Devil’s toasting fork.)
Presumably Trump thoroughly approves of Colonel Gaddafi and his peaceful methods of bringing stability to Libya.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was a corrupt authoritarian dictator, his rotten regime and Swiss bank balance propped up by tens of billions of dollars of US aid, including massive amounts of advanced weaponry to maintain his army in its firm grip of Egypt’s fragile democratic institutions in exchange for a pledge not to use it on Israel, and compliance with a policy of bare religious tolerance.
The army ran, effectively, a second state, its economy virtually independent from that of the mainstream. Following the wobble of Tahrir Square and a brief interregnum of the not-too extreme Muslim Brotherhood, elected on a democratic vote, the military mounted a coup and the country is now safely back in the hands of another authoritarian dictator, General al-Sisi, who has sought to rehabilitate Mubarak; while thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters rot in gaol, many on death row.
That’s the way to do it. Like we interned the Japs in the war. Muslims, right? Know what I’m saying? Am I right?
Mr Trump has accused President Obama, whom he takes care to refer to as ‘Barack HUSSEIN Obama’, of being a secret Muslim, and of supporting the Islamic State in its ambition to restore the Abbassid caliphate. Mr Trump sincerely believes that Obama was born, not in the 50th US state of Hawaii, as it says on his birth certificate, but in his father’s home country, Kenya, and is therefore illegally in occupation of the White House.
Mr Trump indeed believes all sorts of things; anything he can convert into another ‘know what I mean?’ subtle innuendo, that will gain him votes from the crazy community; the paranoid ‘future-phobes’: survivalists, revolutionaries and millennarians, the legions of the disappointed and the conservative-leaning blue-collar anti-managerialists who make up his enraged lower-middle-class constituency; many of whom live in the hope that he is The Messiah who will bring about The Rapture, having first removed any non-Europeans beyond The Wall; ignoring the point that, of all the managerial elite, their hero is the most managerial and in financial terms, among the most elitist of them all.
Mr Trump seems to have forgotten too, how the current situation in Iraq came about, through the ‘nation building’ not of Barack Obama, but of Republican president George W Bush, his friend Tony Blair and their friends the Wahhabist dynasty, the House of Saud, egged on by corporatist neocons in the Washington cocoon. Iraq was previously a stable country all right, thanks to a regime of extreme domestic terror, while thousands of his political opponents rotted in gaol under threat of public execution and Saddam’s Ba’ath party placemen enjoyed the economic and political limelight.
Way to go, Donald.
Another of Mr Trump’s election-winning beliefs (who knows what he believes?) is that climate change is not happening, right? I mean, it’s just not happening, know what I’m saying? It’s a Chinese conspiracy. Meanwhile, Jerry Brown, the governor of California, a climate-change believer, has had to declare another state of emergency as brushfires rage out of control in San Bernadino County, after years of economically devastating drought; while Louisiana is experiencing the worst flooding ever recorded in the Mississippi basin.
These are no longer random events, they are happening on a global scale with increasing severity and frequency – entirely as predicted in the climate science. Science being a dirty word for half of Americans who believe, with Donald J Trump, who can personally vouch for it, in the literal truth of the Bible; and who welcome the prospect of the End Times. A dirty word too for the fossil fuel barons, whom Trump is winning over with speeches extolling the virtues of coal and oil as the clean fuels of tomorrow.
It’s all fine, Donald can fix the weather, you’ll see. He’ll do a deal with God, am I right or what? Is the Pope a Communist? No, just kidding. No smoke without fire.
It might be asked, which problem is it that Mr Obama has brought about, since you cannot blame on the one hand his interventionist ‘nation building’, and on the other hand, his appeasement and a desire to reset relations with the rest of the world. It’s an implausible dichotomy, frankly. And we are wondering, aren’t we, on what evidence Trump believes he needs to increase the size and power of the already hugely expensive US Army, the most powerful in the world, when he is so opposed to foreign interventions; and what he means exactly by making America ‘great’ again – when was it ever not ‘great’? Does he just mean ‘white’? Meanwhile the economy is growing, unemployment falling, wages rising….
Mr Trump concludes, not without relish, that we are living in an Age of Terror, that only he can bring to an end. He will build a wall to keep terror out.
So, which is the greater threat to the security of the USA, I wonder? Terrorism, on the very minor scale at which America has been experiencing it since 9/11 – that’s America, whose own well-armed population of gung-ho paranoiacs and drug gangs is responsible for thirty thousand gun killings a year – or the most profound, irresponsible ignorance and brute stupidity any candidate for the Presidency with only self-contradictory, rhetorical platitudes and no policies to offer his adoring fans can ever have demonstrated in US political history?
Unless he’s only kidding, of course.
Hearts, minds and so forth
Is anyone else waking up with a feeling of unease that, after much air-punching and devout wishes that the man will rot forever in Belmarsh or be extradited by the CIA to Cuba for some extreme vetting, or be dropped into Aleppo by parachute to see what his slimy utterances are really making of the comfortable world he inhabits, the radical preacher Anjem Choudary has been found guilty of, essentially, exercising only what we in Britain used to refer to naively as his freedom of speech?
The security forces, it is said, have been trying to ‘get’ Choudary for the past twenty years for his radicalising Jihadist rhetoric; the problem being, he never himself apparently engaged in any skulduggery, or overstepped the increasingly tricky line between polemic and hate-speech. Only when his supporters – who may have included planted agitators – became a threat to his pre-eminence, demanding more extreme support for Jihad, did he slip up in briefly praising the efforts of the so-called Islamic State.
So the story goes; there’s that unexplained gap of three weeks between the jury verdict and the media announcement, in which anything could have been cooked-up.
Speech supporting a proscribed terrorist organisation that operates with extreme, nihilistic brutality under a wafer-thin veneer of religious respectability, even against its own co-religionists, is a criminal offence, not just bad judgement; and so he will go to gaol, probably for a long time. And good riddance; by all accounts the man was a slippery, manipulative, controlling egotist, a cult leader by whose poisonous words a number of fairly tragic young men and women were persuaded to engage in acts of terrorism and flights to Syria to join the IS – actions for which, while approving them, Choudary considered himself not personally responsible.
Gross hypocrisy is, of course, not the sole prerogative of religious Imams, as someone like Mr Farage is demonstrating, continuing to draw his fat salary and expenses from the very institution he has been seeking for sixteen years to bring down – by perfectly legal means, it must be said. His powerful, radicalising rhetoric has persuaded thousands of ordinary men and women to vote for his fundamentalist views against their own best interests, and those of their country. His speech sometimes puts him in the camp, if not inside the tent, of bullying, extremist proto-fascist parties that instigate violence against minorities. Yet we accord him the freedom of the media.
Because the leadership of IS has essentially declared war on the West, and instructed its followers to carry out atrocities in Europe and elsewhere, wherever in fact there are large Muslim populations whose disaffected young men and women can be persuaded of the historic importance of such acts in the divinely sanctioned mission to reinstate the worldwide caliphate under Sharia, it seems right and proper that we should counter their campaign with all means at our disposal.
But look. Surely the suppression of rabble-rousing speakers has a poor history of success in halting religious and political movements for revolutionary change? One thinks of Thomas Paine, author of the tract ‘The Rights of Man’, imprisoned and driven into exile, whose subversive ideas subsequently fuelled both the American and French revolutions; of the Chartist, Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt; of Karl Marx, who found refuge in C19th England, and whose academic analysis of capitalism led within a century to the murders and starvation of tens of millions in failed ideological experiments of a most inhuman kind.
I feel certain that during the twenty years the security forces had been hoping to ‘get’ Choudary, he will have had his uses to them. And I still think it must surely be better to let the people speak, however unpalatably and provocatively, than to amplify the importance of their ideas through the suppression of speech; far more productive to contain their actions, than to stifle their words; which we should all be allowed to hear.
What we are not hearing is any credible message of counter-radicalisation; any persuasive defence, backed by outward acts of integration and advancement for our struggling minorities, of a way of life which a minority of incomers seem to find so hard to accept. Is it racist to ask why anyone would deliberately choose to remain in a part of the world where they find the prevailing culture so inimical to the sacred beliefs and traditions of their place of origin that they can be so easily diverted by crude fundamentalists?
In reality, it is difficult to see how such a complex set of customs and practices as ‘Britain’ has evolved over the centuries can be explained in terms of simple, attractive, easily grasped images that might appeal to religious conservatives. Is that ‘Britain’ not what attracted them to move here in the first place? Perhaps Mr Farage could be persuaded to turn his considerable oratorical talents to the presentation of an alternative paradigm for Britain’s disaffected young Muslim population?
In the battle for ‘hearts and minds’, it is not helpful to marginalise the very people you are hoping to win over.